3 Keys To Building A Marketing Newsroom

Adam KranitzNovember 4, 20164 min

Digital marketing experts and marketing automation vendors have likely already told you brands need to pump as much content into the pipeline as quickly as possible. Well, as Geoffrey Colon correctly pointed out this week, quantity does not equal quality.

In fact, at the end of this article, you might be ready to tear up that social media marketing deck entirely. Here’s why.

I have to admit; this is a strange place for me. In 2007 I accepted a new role at Avid Technology, the market leader in software and hardware for the media industry, where I was already neck deep in product marketing for Avid Xpress Pro video editing software. Management had taken notice of my eagerness to engage with our up-and-coming customers on community forums, blogs, and nascent social media channels like MySpace. They offered me the newly created position of eMarketing Manager in order to spread that digital engagement across all of the company’s business units. With that, I became one of the first social media marketing managers in enterprise software and quickly converted our passionate worldwide customer community into a large social media fan base—the largest among our peer group of companies producing tools for the creative media professional.

Fast forward to 2013. We were already experiencing diminishing returns from social media networks, even as the content itself racked up insane impressions for a B2B brand (check out the views of this Pro Tools video from 2010). The squeeze was on. Facebook’s increasingly intelligent algorithmic News Feed and a public stock offering in 2012 left brand marketers with a fast-closing window to reach a collected fan base through organic means. Paid placement was clearly the future of brand awareness on social. Sound familiar?

Now I hate spending money on paid media. And I certainly don’t want to pay for promoted access to customers who’ve already opted-in to receiving communications from me on these platforms. We needed our own platform to publish on and connect with customers. A blog would be a good start, but not a typical company blog, which is often a dumping ground for the PR team and the odd bit of content that doesn’t fit on the corporate site. We needed our own branded storytelling platform with an editorial voice and a Media Publishing strategy. Thus my first marketing newsroom was born. In April 2013, to coincide with the company’s largest global tradeshow, I launched Avid Blogs. Built on self-hosted WordPress, the site served as the new daily storytelling hub where customers could learn what’s new in the world of Avid, explore creative techniques from other users, and discover how to make the most of their investment in Avid systems. In my two and a half years as Editor-in-Chief, Avid Blogs rose to become the most trafficked Avid web property outside of Avid.com proper.

Launching a standalone storytelling site isn’t enough to tear-up the social media plan, a proper marketing newsroom requires three digital disruptions.

1. The willingness of a marketing organization to rethink present and future staffing. My own role changed from Social Media Manager to Editor-in-Chief. In a marketing newsroom, other roles like Field Marketing become Field Reporters, PR Managers add Featured Columnist duties, Demand Generation Specialists become Audience Growth Managers. To succeed with an editorial approach to audience development on owned platforms, organizations must invest in new skills training (visual storytelling) for existing staff and write job descriptions that find candidates who can tell a story, rather than launch a campaign.

2. Stop what you’re doing. You can’t campaign your way to an engaged audience. That email campaign, that infographic, that press release, while part of an “integrated marketing campaign” is NOT how customers are conditioned to consume content. Take a lesson from the biggest consumer media brands and create episodic original content. Think like Netflix with Stranger Things or Amazon Prime Video with Transparent. These are stories told in chapters, over time, with a narrative arc that entertains and builds affinity for the content provider. In your case, you’ll create “edu-tainment’ or content that both entertains and informs.

3. Buy-in from above. Like any transformation, there are those who can understand immediately the benefit of disrupting “business as usual” and others who are highly averse. That buy-in will only come with a plan (‘playbook’ in marketing newsroom parlance) that lays out the editorial strategy, individual responsibilities, technology requirements, interlock with Sales, publishing process, amplification plan, and much more. This is where you tear-up the social media deck! Its replacement, the Marketing Newsroom Playbook, is your daily guide for creating audience you own.

This is a preview of the marketing newsroom framework – The Blake Project’s approach to building highly differentiated brands in a digital world. We’ll outline each of the working parts of the framework in upcoming Branding Strategy Insider articles. Or, experience the marketing newsroom live at The Un-Conference, coming up in May 2017 at The London in West Hollywood.

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